Celebrating the heroes of our borough!

Winners of Pride of Waltham Forest Awards collected on stage together with Mark Waton
Published: 6 December 2023
Filed under: Stories of the Forest

The Pride of Waltham Forest Awards celebrate the people, groups and businesses who go above and beyond to give back to the Waltham Forest community. 

This year, the awards were held at Big Penny Social in Blackhorse Lane, at the heart of Waltham Forest’s first Creative Enterprise Zone. The ceremony was compered by local comedian Mark Watson, and awards were given out in 11 categories.  

Over 600 nominations were received, made entirely by residents of Waltham Forest, and the winners were chosen by a panel including Grace Williams, Leader of the Council, and Linzi Roberts-Egan, Chief Executive. 

Winners and their guests enjoyed entertainment from local groups the Matthew Jazz Duo and Mbilla Arts. 

Leader of the Council, Cllr Grace Williams, said: “It’s been fantastic to welcome new categories to the Pride of Waltham Forest Awards this year, including Carer of the Year and Young Person of the Year – and our awards recognise so many extremely important people. Reading over 600 nominations, filled with praise and thanks, reminded me of just how special this borough is. We know how strong we can be when we pull together, and that’s what the Pride Awards are all about.” 

Councillor Grace Williams on stage at the Pride Awards

The winners in each category are: 

Leader’s Special Recognition Award

Winner: elop 

Elop is dedicated to supporting LGBT+ people in Waltham Forest. They started in 1995 and have grown from a small service with one counsellor to the largest LGBT+ counselling service in London. They give safety, support, and understanding to LGBT+ people, as well as lobbying against discrimination at a national and local level. We are extremely fortunate to have this organisation in Waltham Forest. 

Mayor’s Public Service Hero 

Winner: Tommy Kartal 

Tommy has been described as the ‘most dedicated public servant that Chingford has’ and ‘a great asset to Waltham Forest.’ His work as a street cleaner in Chingford for over 20 years has brought him into contact with almost everyone in the local community, and he is known and loved for his positivity, friendliness, and dedication to his job. As one of his nominators said: “It’s a real joy to see him when I’m at Chingford Mount as he will always give a smile and say hello, even if it’s raining." 

Mayor’s Public Service Hero Finalists 

Project Zero 

Fiona McLoughlin 

Young Person of the Year 

Winner: Ruby-Tuesday O’Brien 

Ruby was diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2021, and has had to have 18 months of chemotherapy and two operations. Throughout all of this, she has led charity campaigns which have together raised over £12,000, and has spoken out about the need for brain tumour research. Even after these hardest of ordeals, Ruby has stayed the same sweet, incredibly caring girl she has always been. 

Young Person of the Year Finalists 

Karimullah Oryakahel 

Shawn Stewart-Thomas 

Environment Champion of the Year 

Winner: St Mary’s Walthamstow Gardeners 

Tim Hewitt and the St Mary’s Walthamstow volunteer gardeners have transformed St Mary’s Churchyard into a haven for insects and animals, as well as creating a welcoming space for people to volunteer and learn about gardening. Thanks to Tim’s inclusive leadership, dozens of people and groups now help care for the churchyard, and have turned it into a vital community asset.  

Environment Champion of the Year Finalists 

Stone Mini Market 

Power Station (Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn) 

Local Business of the Year 

Winner: MKB Care Ltd 

MKB Care, run by Bash Kehinde, look after young people who are leaving care. They go above and beyond to help the vulnerable people they support become independent adults, by providing housing, advice, counselling and help into work. Social care in the borough is enhanced by having this local business to turn to, and the young people of Waltham Forest are lucky to have them. 

Local Business of the Year Finalists 

Harness & Mane 

Zero Waste Bulk Food 

Health and Wellbeing Champion of the Year 

Winner: Zaid Mahmood 

Zaid’s role as a mental health ambassador at his college has been nothing short of transformative. He has worked tirelessly to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues, offering a non-judgmental space for students to seek guidance and assistance – and his compassionate nature has allowed him to foster an environment where students feel safe to open up about their struggles. He has become a beacon of hope and support for countless students facing mental health challenges and has undoubtedly changed many lives for the better. 

Health and Wellbeing Champion of the Year Finalists 

Sabbir Ahmed 

Jacqui King 

Three members of Waltham Forest Parent Forum on stage with their award, Councillor Ashworth and Mark Watson

Volunteers of the year 

Winner: Waltham Forest Parent Forum 

Waltham Forest Parent Forum are a friendly group of volunteers who all have children with special educational needs and disabilities. They work non-stop to support families across the whole of Waltham Forest, offering training, workshops, and much-needed social gatherings to empower parents on their SEND journey. 

Volunteers of the Year Finalists 

Stone Soup Volunteers 

The Conservation Volunteers 

Community Culture Award 

Winner: Women Over Fifty Film Festival: Moving Pictures 

The Moving Pictures initiative have been supporting a local care home to deliver innovative and meaningful activities for residents and staff for over two years. The initiative has also touched lives across the borough, working with Waltham Forest Women’s interfaith network, and they are now working with refugees, enabling migrant’s voices to be shared via film. They touch the lives of everyone they work with across the borough, bringing them the opportunity to be creative and involved in storytelling. 

Community Culture Award Finalists 

The Wanstead Tap 

Safe Streets Award 

Winner: Martine Foley 

Over the last decade, Martine has dedicated a huge amount of her own time to chair her local Safer Neighbourhood meetings, getting to know police inspectors and officers as she works with them to make her community safer – sometimes even going out on patrol with them. Martine will go out of her way to help anyone in her community who is in need, and residents know that they can always call on her for help or support. 

Safe Streets Award Finalists 

Stephen Barnabis 

Faheem Khan 

Carer of the Year 

Winner: Eileen Best 

Eileen is a carer for her grandson, who had been in care and experienced multiple foster family placements over a short period of time. When he needed help, Eileen stepped in, and he has lived with her ever since. Eileen’s grandson has complex medical needs that require ongoing hospital visits but her love, dedication, strength and resilience has never wavered, and she is an extremely special member of the foster carer community. 

Carer of the Year Finalists 

Louisa Hill 

Adrienne Ives 

‘My Neighbourhood’ Champion of the Year 

Winner: Tom Moreland Junior 

Tom is the owner and head mechanic of More-Than-Right Bicycles and dedicates his time to supporting people of all backgrounds with their bikes. As well as being a reliable on-call mechanic, he has provided free bikes and help to people who use food banks, asylum seekers, refugees, and local groups like Cycle Sisters – spending his own time (and sometimes his own money) to do so. He recycles bike bits, puts them back together, and always ensures that bikes are serviced to a high standard and safe to ride. 

His work keeps people across Waltham Forest cycling. 

‘My Neighbourhood’ Champion of the Year Finalists 

Julia Hawkes 

Gordon Turpin 


Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible: Service Store, Morgan Sindall, Urbaser, Marston Holdings, Soho Theatre Walthamstow, Countryside Partnerships, Big Kid and Cubiquity.